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Life Issues, Medical Choices: Questions and Answers for Catholics Paperback – January 5, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JANET E. SMITH is the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. She wrote Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later and Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader. She speaks nationally and internationally on the church’s teaching on sexuality and on bioethics. Over one million copies of her talk “Contraception: Why Not” have been distributed. DR. CHRISTOPHER KACZOR holds a PH.D. from the University of Notre Dame, studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cologne in Germany, and is the Robert H. Taylor Chair in Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He wrote Proportionalism and the Natural Law Tradition, The Edge of Life: Human Dignity and Contemporary Bioethics and How to Stay Catholic in College.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 197 pages
  • Publisher: St. Anthony Messenger Press (January 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0867168080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0867168082
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Carol Blank on February 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Professor Janet Smith and Christopher Kaczor, Ph.D., are well known for their bioethics books, articles, and presentations. Their collaboration here offers guidelines for health care providers and individuals faced with an array of medical-ethical choices. Content is based on fundamental principles of Church teaching, where available, and on the thinking of moral theologians in areas of developing medical technology and treatment.

The book comprises such topics as reproductive technologies and beginning- and end-of-life issues. Each section consists of 7 to 14 questions and in-depth answers. A final chapter relates the Ten Commandments to ethics for medical professionals and suggests ways they can be applied to challenging situations. Extensive chapter resource lists and notes round out the book.

Throughout their work, the authors draw attention to connections between the topics and the relationship of all to the larger question of life issues and medical choices. In the section on fundamentals, for example, they provide a four-page explanation of the concept of "double effect," a method for analyzing actions that have two or more morally significant effects. Double effect comes up again under beginning-of-life issues (treatment of ectopic pregnancies) and cooperation with evil (separating conjoined twins).

With its clear and thorough treatment of more than 50 specific questions, this work is a valuable resource for medical professionals, ministers, and families.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Haake on June 13, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this easy-to-read book, two philosophers have combined their forces to provide a simple look at some complex matters. Bioethical concerns have taken on highly interdisciplinary characteristics and, therefore, it is next to impossible to write about them without entering into legal, medical, and theological considerations. To expect a book of this size to deal with all of these various features of the topics would be asking far too much. Rather, fifty-seven questions are posed in six chapters and answers are provided which speak to the crux of the matter at hand. A seventh chapter seeks to extrapolate for medical personnel and patients guidelines from the Ten Commandments. Again, the popular style of the writing does not make any pretense of delving into the most profound analysis of the various problems but does bring forth clear solutions which are readily understandable by a reader with even a simple background in matters related to Bioethics (not exclusively in the medical setting). Likewise, this review does not presume to scrutinize fully all of the various responses given.
In the first chapter, the groundwork is laid for what will follow in the subsequent sections of the book by examining fundamental concepts. The value of life, the double effect principle, and the notion of intrinsically evil actions are set forth in view of their utility in arriving at ethical judgments. A welcome question on suffering also is included. As seen in the title, the authors directed their work to a primarily Catholic audience and this explains the reason for development of the binding nature of Magisterial teaching along with Revelation and natural law reasoning. Apart from this specific concern, the book just as well could have been presented without reference to any particular religion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RON on November 18, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is easily read. It opens a long time tradition in the Catholic Church on how to deal with life issues and its moral applications. it is affordable.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Marna Swim on October 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dr. Janet Smith supports her writing with valid research. Plus she is a current spokes-person, seminar presenter, for Catholic Concerns related to "Theology of the Body" perspective. Quotable material.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate Calina on June 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
Dr. Janet Smith, Chair in Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and Dr. Christopher Kaczor, Chair in Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University, have written a powerful book. Noting that true freedom lies in the ability to align our actions freely with the truth, so as to achieve authentic human happiness, these authors explore an array of life issues in a clear and concise format. The two key questions we all face in our complex society concern what we must do with our lives and how we distinguish good from evil. The informed answers in this book provide a wealth of information for making medical choices and knowledgeable decisions about life issues.

The chapters are divided into logical topics, including the fundamental principles of bioethics, abortion, reproductive technologies, birth control, end-of-life issues, and cooperation with evil. The articulate discussion about double effect is very helpful in determining the best course of action in challenging ethical questions. Three key considerations about abortion are presented: is an embryo a human being? Do embryos have rights? What about the right to free choice? The authors present a definition of an embryo in one of the most complete discourses available from modern science, and touch on the timely topic of fetal pain.

Intriguing questions receive full consideration from these authors, who have made significant contributions to the field of bioethics throughout their lives. Some examples are: whether a baby can be conceived to provide for the medical needs of an existing child, or whether sex selection is valid. In the area of contraception, thoughtful consideration is given to the effects of our contraceptive culture.
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